Life doesn’t get much simpler than skipping rocks underneath a bridge. (Stuart Schuffman/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Escaping San Francisco on New Year’s Eve

It’s so hard to get back into the rhythm of work after the holidays. After nearly two weeks in which drive, ambition and discipline are completely nonexistent, coming back to the “real world” is difficult. Suddenly, all those things that you put off until “next year” are actual tasks you need to contend with, and your body has to overcome the cravings for all the deliciously terrible food you’ve been eating.

The revelry and the slacking off begins toward the start of December, when the various holiday parties kick off. Hanukkah usually arrives shortly afterward, and then halfway through the month my birthday shimmies onto the scene on Dec. 16. Nearly every night of the month is spent spinning like a dreidel from event to event, consuming latkes and booze and birthday cake. By the time Dec. 23 rolls around, the pre-Christmas hustle turns into the end-of-year slouch. Once Christmas has passed, I have a moment where I look in the mirror and think, “What am I supposed to do with myself?” (Maybe this is what retirement feels like.) Then, New Year’s Eve marches onto the scene with all kinds of pomp and circumstance, like the answer to all of your prayers.

After a solid month of eating and drinking like a Norseman in Valhalla, I generally want nothing to do with New Year’s Eve in The City. It’s usually over-hyped and over-priced drudgery that leaves you thinking, “Is that it?” I usually try to escape for the last few days of the year, if I can. It’s a nice way to hit the reset button and return home with a fresh perspective on the year ahead.

This year, my girlfriend, some other friends and I rented a place in Nevada City, so we could explore Gold Country. It was blissfully glorious …

Don’t be startled by the abandoned mental institution. (Stuart Schuffman/Special to S.F. Examiner)

We all slept in as late as we wanted. Then, we went out and adventured. We wandered historic Grass Valley and found a really friendly black cat in a cemetery and named him Bartholomew. We sought out an abandoned mental institution and planned to do some urban exploring, but it was too securely boarded up. We went on a New Year’s Day hike along a river and got to see the nation’s longest covered bridge.

On New Year’s Eve, we went into the heart of beautiful, adorable, historic Nevada City, where we met pot-growers and townies; people were amazed we left San Francisco to spend New Year’s Eve in their tiny town. The crowd was surprisingly young, hip and good-looking, and there were four or five bars — quite a lot for a town of 3,000 people. I even ran into my friend Jayme, who I forgot lived in Nevada City. She was radiant and seemed genuinely glad to have left San Francisco.

Life doesn’t get much simpler than skipping rocks underneath a bridge. (Stuart Schuffman/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Otherwise, we spent time in the place we rented, cooking, making cocktails, playing board games and laughing. We laughed a lot. It had been so long since any of us had been able to relax that much. Living in the Bay has gotten so competitive and intense and expensive that we forget that not all places are like that. We’re all so busy hustling and grinding, just trying to survive, that we even turn our relaxation into something more complicated. Just think about how many people you know working toward yoga teacher certification …

But now, we’re back. It’s 2018 and it’s time to get it together again. As nice as all the partying, slacking and relaxing of the past month was, we’ve all got tons to do and even more to catch up on. I look forward to what this year will hold because we all know it won’t be a boring one. Hopefully, it’s exciting in good ways, because we’ve had enough bad news for a lifetime.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.

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Don’t be startled by the abandoned mental institution. (Stuart Schuffman/Special to S.F. Examiner)

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